Addressing a rally in Barasat, about 20 km from Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday, 13 April, called herself a street fighter. This was the first rally after the Election Commission barred her from campaigning for 24 hours, from 8 pm on Monday.
The Trinamool Congress supremo took a jab at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), stating their intimidation tactics won't work. “I would like to tell the BJP (that) you have money, hotels, and all agencies, still you will lose this battle because I am a street fighter. I fight from the battleground," she said.
Referring to her remarks over which Banerjee was put on a 24-hour campaigning ban, she denied the charges and asked what was wrong in what she had said.
“What mistake Mamata Banerjee did by appealing to everyone to vote unitedly? I want votes from Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Chrisitian, mothers, sisters, students, and youth," said Banerjee.
What Banerjee Said at the Rally
Banerjee took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling him a "liar". She then corrected her stance by saying, "Liar is an unparliamentary word. PM is misleading the people."
"“Narendra Modi said at a meeting in Krishnanagar that Mamata Didi did nothing for the Matua community. I’m publicly asking him to accept the challenge. If I haven’t done anything for them, then I will leave politics, if you are lying then you will do sit-ups holding ears.”" - CM Mamata Banerjee
She also told the crowd that West Bengal cannot become Gujarat.
Addressing another rally at Bidhannagar, Banerjee accused the BJP of colliding with central agencies. She said, "The BJP knows that they will lose the election so they are taking help from all central agencies to stop me from campaigning."
BJP President, JP Nadda rebuked Banerjee saying her "plight is like that of a defeated player in a game".
Polling for the high-stakes West Bengal Assembly elections is taking place in eight phases, with voting having concluded in four. Banerjee's remarks come ahead of the fifth phase of Assembly elections, which is being held on 17 April.
The Bengal elections has seen the TMC and the BJP at loggerheads with the latter threatening to dethrone the ruling party.
Why Was Mamata Banned from Campaigning?
The Election Commission on Monday, 12 April, had imposed a 24-hour campaigning ban on Banerjee for her “highly insinuating” and “provocative" remarks, which the poll body had said were laden with “serious potential of breakdown of law and order".
The ban had been in place from 8 pm on 12 April till 8 pm on 13 April.
The EC had noted that the CM violated provisions under the Model Code of Conduct, Sections 123(3) and (3A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and 186, 189 and 505 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The EC notice, issued by outgoing Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, was over Banerjee's comments on Muslim votes and those, which allegedly urged action against central security forces.
“The commission hereby condemns such statements portent with serious law and order problem across the state and sternly warns Ms Banerjee and advises her to desists from using such statements while making public utterances during the period when Model Code of Conduct is in force,” the notice read.
Banerjee Sat in a Dharna Against EC's Notice
Calling the ban undemocratic and unconstitutional, the Chief Minister voiced her protest against the EC notice by announcing a dharna.
“I will sit on dharna tomorrow at Gandhi Murti, Kolkata from 12 noon,” Banerjee wrote in a tweet.
Banerjee did a 3.5-hour-long dharna against the EC’s decision. She arrived at the Mayo Road venue in Kolkata on a wheelchair around 11:30 am, and appeared to be keeping herself busy by painting during the dharna.
The Gandhi Murti area is under the jurisdiction of the Indian Army’s Eastern Command, which said that it had not yet issued a no-objection certificate (NOC) to the Trinamool for the sit-in protest. It informed that though the party had applied for the certificate at 9:40 am, it was still under process.
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